In 2007, Margarita Shot Bloks were a big part of my Leadville 100 race plan. With all calories and the extra sodium, they seemed like a great idea.
If you go back and read my race report, though, you will find that this plan didn’t work out so well. After less than half the race, I found myself completely unable to eat this particular kind of Shot Blok without gagging.
The question, heretofore unanswered, is: "What happened to all those 2007 Margarita Shot Bloks, then?"
Well, they sat on the bike food shelf in my kitchen pantry (yes, I have a bike food shelf in my kitchen pantry. Don’t you?), deeply buried and sadly neglected.
Over the Christmas break, I was cleaning house and discovered these Shot Bloks.
After the shudder of recognition passed, I took a look at the "Best if used by" date on the back of the package.
These Shot Bloks had indeed expired in December…of 2007.
Furthermore, they were now as hard as carbon fiber. And in fact they may make a decent carbon patching material, since they are clearly horizontally stiff, though I would definitely not call them vertically compliant.
Eating them was clearly out of the question. But since I had paid $2.00 for each of these bags (two of them), I didn’t want to just throw them away.
Very well, I thought to myself. Let’s use these Shot Bloks to contribute to the sum of human wisdom. Let’s conduct some experiments with them.
Experiment #1: Bike Tire Resistance
The most natural experiment to conduct with a severely hardened Shot Blok is to find out what happens to it when you ride over it with a bicycle. So I got out the trusty camcorder, put it on a tripod, and found out.
And, since I am a Very Thorough Scientist, I first used a control Shot Blok — a strawberry one — to see how a fresh Shot Blok reacts to being rolled over.
Though, now that I think about it, anyone who has been to a mountain bike race in the past 18 months already knows what Shot Bloks look like once they’ve been rolled over. In fact, the real trouble is getting the gunk cleaned out of your tread and drivetrain.
In any case, please take the time to edify yourself by watching the following video:
What do we learn from this? Several important things:
- Expired Shot Bloks are impervious to bicycle tires
- Non-expired Shot Bloks are squishy
- Expired Shot Bloks could probably be cut into sharp, pointy shapes and used as improvisational tire shredders in my upcoming mountain biking action adventure movie script.
- My neighbors now think I am a very strange person for setting up unidentifiable tiny objects and filming myself riding back and forth in the driveway on a sub-zero late afternoon.
Experiment #2: Resistance to Pressure
Clearly, these Shot Bloks are made of stern stuff, though this stern-ness clearly manifests itself mostly after its expire date.
But how well does an expired Shot Blok hold up under pressure?
(Procedural Note: I did not do a control version of this experiment because I knew that fresh Shot Bloks would squish right into the floor, and then I’d have to clean them up. Plus, fresh Shot Bloks are too expensive and delicious to waste four of them in such a manner.)
First, note how they are completely undeformed when a heavy (~20 pounds, give or take five pounds) wooden chair rests on them.
Next, note only the mildest deformation of the Shot Bloks when a 50-pound child sits on the chair.
It’s only when a vampire — my thirteen-year-old son, who only (willingly) arises at dusk — applies his supernatural weight (about 120 pounds), compounded with the chair’s weight (~20 pounds, still), that there’s any significant deformation of the Shot Bloks.
And here’s a close-up.
That’s about 40 pounds of pressure being constantly applied to the petrified Shot Blok, and it still doesn’t completely deform.
Afterward, in fact, they now look like rather expensive toffees.
Experiment #3: Shot Blok Burnination
The question you — a naturally curious student of the sciences — are bound to have is, "Well, how do they burn?"
The following video should help answer that question:
The astute viewer will glean many crucial gems of information from this video. These key learnings include:
- For some reason, the hard Shot Bloks burn both sooner and brighter than the fresh Shot Bloks. The "sooner" part I attribute to the probability that old Shot Bloks have less water in them than fresh ones. the "brighter" part might be due to the extra sodium in the Margarita Shot Bloks. I’d have to conduct more experiments to substantiate these suppositions, however, and I’m probably not going to.
- Burning Shot Bloks — whether fresh or old — smell almost exactly like burning marshmallows. Which leads me to conclude that marshmallows would probably make an awesome on-bike energy food.
- Having a little torch like this is absolutely the best way to light fireworks on the 4th of July. Or to light anything, for that matter. Torches are just plain cool.
Experiment #4: Exploring Alternative Uses
Once a Shot Blok has metamorphosed into pure kevlar, what is it good for? Well, obviously as an awesome way to stop bullets, but it was simply too time consuming (and exceeded the Fat Cyclist insurance policy) to create a vest made out of Margarita Shot Bloks and test its stopping power.
What then might a packet of expired Shot Bloks be good for?
The answer is obvious, when you think about it:
Yes, dice. They look the part, and they’re certainly hard enough. Two minutes with a Sharpie is all it takes to make an excellent semi-biodegradable gambling device you can use out in the field.
By the way, I’m quite pleased with my Yahtzee turn in this video. Four of a kind with 6’s is very respectable.
Experiment 5: Edibility Test
All other experimentation is merely preamble to the final test of an ancient Shot Blok.
The real question I set out to answer — so you won’t have to try it yourself — is: are they edible?
As a scientist and also a fearless and handsome man, I hereby provide video evidence that they are.
Sort of. If you’ve got a while.
Three days have elapsed, and I am still picking Margarita Shot Blok (2007 Vintage) out of my teeth.
Questions and Next Steps
After conducting these (Very Important and Thorough) experiments, I still have questions.
- Why are they hard? I have proved conclusively that expired Shot Bloks are indeed ridiculously hard. But why are they so hard? I don’t know of any other food product that transmogrifies so completely while sealed in its package, regardless of its expire date (and I eat a lot of expired food). Is this something Clif did just to be mean?
- What’s next? I actually have one more package of 2007 Margarita Shot Bloks. What other experiments are desperately in need of being conducted?
I am happy to have informed and educated you.